The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton

Do you have authors whose new books you anxiously await? I’m sure you do. One of the newest authors I have added to this list is Stuart Turton. Turton wrote The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastlewhich was published in 2018. That book is a mix of an Agatha Christie novel and the movie Groundhog Day as readers learn that Evelyn Hardcastle keeps dying and Aiden must solve her murder or relive the day over and over. It kept me engaged from start to finish, so when I learned that Turton had a new book coming out at the end of 2020, I knew I wanted to read it.

The Devil in the Dark Water is Turton’s latest novel and it’s a gloriously written complex historical mystery telling the story of people trapped on a ship traveling across the high seas to Amsterdam. Stuck on a ship means that there has to be a bad guy and, OH BOY, are they bad! It’s a bit of a closed room mystery mixed with Sherlock Holmes and a strong dab of history. Read it and let me know what you think. Let’s get into this review!

It’s 1634. Samuel Pipps is the world’s greatest detective, traveling the world with his bodyguard Arent Hayes solving cases that no one can solve. He sees things others miss and can easily figure out the answer to whatever is plaguing him in a case. Arent believes Sammy is gifted and can solve anything. When Sammy ends up being arrested for a crime he may not have committed, Arent is devastated. The two end up boarding a ship to Amsterdam where Sammy is locked away in a small dark and musty cell. He is being transported to Amsterdam to stand trial for his crimes and Arent’s job to keep him safe becomes immensely harder.

As soon as they head out to sea, issues start to plague the ship. Devilry wreaks havoc on the ship and passengers and crew alike are scared. Pipps is shackled inside his cell, leaving Arent to solve the mystery without him. A leper who should have been dead is stalking the ship. Livestock is brutally killed. A strange symbol connected to Arent’s past starts showing up all over the ship.

When the deaths start, panic reaches a fever pitch. Could a demon be responsible for everything happening on board the ship? Voices whisper to people promising their heart’s desire for a small price. Arent needs help solving this mystery and reaches out to other passengers he deems safe. Multiple passengers are connected to this mystery with past secrets and hidden questions that threaten to sink the ship, killing everyone onboard.

This book is also available in the following format:

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

The cover of this book was what first caught my eye when I was looking for a new book to read. I listened to this as an audiobook and I will admit that it took me about thirty minutes to become fully invested. Once that happened though, I was hooked. This book became my favorite book  and the one that I recommend to all of my friends. (Pretty big hype talk for this book, huh? I promise you – no pressure). Let’s get into it.

In The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern, a massive labyrinth of tunnels and rooms filled with stories exists far underneath the surface of the Earth. This area isn’t accessible to everyone and those who wish to see its wonder must find an entryway. These entryways aren’t your typical doors. They are hidden throughout the world in places where you might not expect to find them. They appear before those seeking a change or those who are worthy or those looking.

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a graduate student in Vermont. One day in the stacks at the library, he stumbles upon a hidden mysterious book that doesn’t look like it belongs. Drawn to it, Zachary begins flipping through and is shocked when he sees a story from his very own childhood written there. Confused, Zachary tries to figure out why and how his story came to be there and finds a series of clues that lead him to a masquerade party to a secret club to a doorway to an ancient hidden library. That ancient library is hidden far far below the surface and is beyond anything that Zachary Ezra Rawlins could ever imagine. He is quickly drawn into this mysterious realm and is introduced to those who are willing to sacrifice anything to protect it. Zachary teams up with travelers and they begin traversing the many, many different hidden places in this labyrinth. Everyone who travels to this library seems to be looking for their purpose in the real world, in the library, and in that mysterious book Zachary first found.


This book is also available in the following formats:

Re-Reads: the Master and Commander series

What book would you reach for, given the opportunity and time, if you could re-read a favorite book? There’s so much pressure to keep up with the latest/newest/hottest, that you can sometimes forget the simple pleasure of re-visiting an old friend. This week some of our blogging librarians talk about the one book (or book series) that they would re-read.

I’ll start things off with my choice, Patrick O’Brian’s brilliant Master and Commander series which follows the adventures of British Naval Captain Jack Aubrey and his friend, surgeon Stephen Maturin. Set during the Napoleonic Wars when Britain ruled the seas, there is no shortage of action and bloodshed but there is also no shortage of laughter, intrigue, nuance, humor, suspense, romance and political manuvering. The enduring friendship between Jack and Stephen is the bedrock of the books, through the waxing and waning of fortunes and luck. Jack, who is a brilliant seaman but bumbling and inept on land both with the ladies and the law, and Stephen, an outsider, a scientist, a sometime spy and an opium addict may seem like an odd couple, but their love of music brings them together.

To call these books great historical fiction is to sell them short; this is great fiction – beautifully written, effortless details that do not overwhelm the story, storylines that will move you to tears or to laugh out loud, adventures that will keep you up late at night to find out what happens (do not start reading the last third of Desolation Island right at bedtime – you’ll be up until 3am!) The quality of the writing and characters does not waver, an amazing feat considering there are 20 complete volumes!

I love these books for the way it’s so easy to completely immerse yourself in them, for the adventures big and small, and most of all for Jack and Stephen, as friends you can always count on.